Weekly Series
Nature Weekly
Short Notes on Nature Singapore

20 November 2016 | Paper Mulberry | Broussonetia papyrifera |

photo On October 31, I made a second visit to the herb garden that I visited previously in September in order to check out more of the herbs there. While roaming around the densely vegetated and thriving garden, I found a rather unusual looking plant that I had not seen in the past hiding in a corner under the shaded vegetation. What was left of this small tree was a stump with several young branches that grew from side of the stump. The unusual part was its deeply lobed leaves that look similar to that of the papaya leaves. Indeed, the clue that eventually led to its identity was these lobed leaves. There were not many plants with such high degree of lobed leaves. It also featured prominent stipules at the base of the petiole (stalk that joins a leaf to a stem).

photo photo I flipped through several of my medicinal plants pictorial guide books but nothing came close. After that, I tried checking on pictures of Macaranga and Boehmeria species in the Internet. Again, nothing materialized. Without no other option left, I started to search using the term “simple, lobed leaves” and hoping that a familiar picture will turn up. Luck was with me --- a plant picture with leaves that looked exactly the same with the pictures that I had taken showed up in an Australia website. The plant was Paper Mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera).

Apparently, I had read about this tree in some books in the past. The reason that this live specimen was not recognizable to me was due to the variable shape of the leaves at different stage of their growth; leaves in young plants are deeply lobed but usually not so in the more matured tree.

The other 2 new plants added to my pictorial deck from this trip were Parasol Leaf Tree (Macaranga tanarius) and Chinese Chaste Tree (Vitex negundo var. cannabifolia).

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